“The Lord does not let the righteous go hungry, but he thwarts the craving of the wicked. A slack hand causes poverty…Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger…The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing…The drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags” (Proverbs 10:3-4a; 19:15; 20:4; 23:21)
“And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’” (Matthew 25:8-9)
There are different causes of poverty: natural disasters such as fires and floods, illness or injury leading to financial difficulties, loss of a family’s breadwinner or parents, lack of education, financial ruin, and self-inflicted troubles. Today we will examine our response to those who bring poverty on themselves since this is an entirely different situation from that of those who have suffered from circumstances beyond their control. Later this year we will examine slothfulness more closely, but it is essential to discern different reasons for poverty now.
Some people become destitute like the foolish virgins in the parable of the ten virgins, who expected others to provide for them, rather than buy their oil (Matthew 25:1-12). This parable’s primary lesson is that having a personal relationship with Christ is the only means of entering into the ultimate wedding feast of the Bridegroom. That being said, Jesus used an analogy relating to the real life of the people in the marketplace. Our faith and the faith of others is reflected in (not the result of) our expectations and willingness to apply ourselves to the work of this life diligently. The craving of the wicked may include alcohol and drug addiction, betting, investing heavily in a lottery, unrestrained spending on nonessentials, and gluttony that leads to obesity, illness, and slothfulness. The Proverbs verses teach that the one who is idle will go hungry; he or she has done nothing to provide for themselves, such as plowing a field, to later yield a harvest. “Sometimes [God] causes it to diminish by little and little; at other times he forcibly and suddenly drives it away, and causes it to take wings and fly away; though it has been swallowed down with great greediness, and in great abundance, he makes them throw it up again, and casts it out of their belly, whether they will or not, so that it does not profit them. That is either remiss in giving to the necessities of others, according to his abilities, and as cases require; or that is negligent and slothful in his business…who pretends to work, but does not; makes a show as if he did, but acts deceitfully; or who uses many tricking and deceitful ways and methods to live, as usually slothful persons do.” (1)
“This holds good in spiritual things; such who have been slothful and sluggish about their spiritual affairs, unconcerned for the grace of God, and indolent in the use of means, or performance of duty, will ask when too late, or of wrong persons, and shall not have it; as the foolish virgins ask oil of the wise, when the bridegroom is come.” (2)
Do you reward slothfulness and sin by giving to those who suffer by their sin? How might you be encouraging rather than teaching and disciplining those who expect something for nothing?
- Gill, John, on Proverbs 10:3, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/proverbs-10-3.html
- Gill, John, on Proverbs 20:4, https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/proverbs-20-4.html